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World Food Safety Day

June 7th has been designated as World Food Safety Day. From government to consumer, we all play a role to ensure that we avoid any health risks associated with food consumption.

World Food Safety Day is jointly facilitated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and aims to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks, contributing to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, market access, tourism and sustainable development.

Here are a couple of statistics that illustrate the importance of safe food practices:

  • Worldwide, one in ten people fall ill from contaminated food, each year.
  • Over 200 diseases are caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances, such as heavy metals.
  • 420,000 people die every year from eating contaminated food.

By making food safety a priority, many of these illnesses and deaths could be prevented.

Cook Up Your Future

Cook Up Your Future is a culinary program created by La Tablée des Chefs. Covenant House Vancouver (CHV) has been extremely fortunate to work with La Tablée des Chefs and this program for approximately the last year and a half.

The goal of this program is to teach young people how to cook, and to educate them about food, nutrition, and food safety. There are four sessions a year, one session for each season. Each session is five weeks long and is facilitated by a chef, hired by La Tablée des Chefs, and supported by CHV staff.

The Cook Up Your Future program is open to youth in both the Rights of Passage and Crisis Programs. Participation is completely voluntary. On average, each session is attended by five to seven youth. Youth are provided with cookbooks and aprons, and recipes are based on seasonally available ingredients, and are taken from a variety of cultures. Youth attending the sessions vary in their cooking experiences from absolutely no experience to those who work in the restaurant industry and wish to learn new skills.

 An important part of each session is food safety. Youth learn how to avoid cross contamination (for example, using different cutting boards and utensils for the treatment of fish and vegetables), food preparation, and food storage. Youth are also taught about kitchen safety as well. They are taught how to properly hold knives when cutting food, and how to travel through the kitchen safely while carrying a knife.

CHV’s Teaching Kitchen

Included in the renovations to the building that is home to the Rights of Passage program, is a new teaching kitchen. This session of Cook Up Your Future was very special because it is the first session to take place in this amazing space.

The kitchen is composed of a central island station and four stations that surround the island. Each station is equipped with its own stove top, microwave, bowls, plates, and utensils. The chef will teach and demonstrate at the central island, so that youth can gather around and view the demonstration without any obstructions. Then youth go to their stations and practice what they’ve been shown. All stations and their amenities are colour coded for ease of cleanup and setup.

The chef who is teaching the current session said that the CHV teaching kitchen is the best teaching kitchen that he has seen in the year that he’s been with the Cook Up Your Future program.

One youth, who not only had no cooking experience, but was fearful of knife handling, became adept by the end of his session. He was delighted at the skills he had learned and said, “I never thought that I would be able to cook like this!”

In this session, the youth have learned to make chocolate and fruit pancakes, fish tacos, and poke bowls. Over the next couple of weeks, they will learn how to make chicken strips and lasagna.

We would like to thank La Tablée des Chefs and the Cook Up Your Future program for their ongoing support of vulnerable youth in the community.